24 May 2009

Another Archival Article: Les Rallizes Denudes... Who are these mysterious.. eh... nude ones??

This was written for the Flux Us website back in 2007:

Les Rallizes Denudes, a mysterious Japanese quartet (sometimes quintet) which is shrouded in as much cloak you can find on the main stage where Phantom of the Opera roams... No one knows what the mainman, Takashi Mizutani is up to nowadays, some whisper that he is currently in prison, due to his association with the Red Army (Shekigun) and their terrorist activities back in the 1970s and early 1980s. While others murmur through the thickened mist of rumours/hearsay that he is traversing across the globe, leading a carefree and vagabond-like existence.

But who are they, really? The name of the band roughly translates to “The Nude Rallizes” but what is “Rallizes” is anyone’s guess. If you have been affected & infected by the power and rage of some of the most transcending psychedelic rock vibes of Keiji Haino & Fushitsusha, High Rise, Acid Mothers Temple, Musica Transonic, Mainliner, etc., you would have heard traces of influence this band has on the names dropped. They are, nevertheless, a beast all on their own: Swirling fuzzy, distorted rock riffs spilled out at all directions and hit you like a hurricane once you have placed the CD in your player & pressed play on the control panel. But the similarity between Les Rallizes Denudes & the other so-called Jap Psych Rock bands stops there: What the other bands lack, the Denudes have it aplenty, which is the groove. Not just any rock groove a la The Stooges or Gang Of Four (which so many have copied & failed terribly) but something more, eh, funky? Something you can shake your toes to even (well at least for 1 of the tracks).

Another mind-boggling thing about them is the near impossibility to find legitimately released CDs/records by these guys (unless of course you are willing to mortgage your house or pawn your wife) as the 2 CDs & 1 video which they have released in early 1990s were totally sold out within weeks of their release. What you can find now are just bootleg CDs/LPs, nothing more, and many of them being CD-Rs.

The best label in the thriving cottage business of re-issuing various versions/combinations of the 2 legit CDs, soundboard recordings & live bootleg tapes by the Denudes is Overground from France. So far it has re-issued 2 proper CDs from these guys & they are proper factory pressed CDs & not poorly issued CDRs (which will deteriorate in a few years' time if you have not noticed):
1. le 12 mars 1977 a Tachikawa (a double CD set of 1 of the 2 CDs issued in the early 1990s, called '77 Live)
2. Live 1972

le 12 mars 1977 a Tachikawa - This is the one, the holy grail of Japanese psych rock before it was issued by Overground to save thousands out there in the world from total bankruptcy just to procure a copy of the original. Full of black magikal energy and endless psych riffs, solos and feedback, you will be totally transformed after you have played it once through, play it again, you will be forever change(d)..

live 1972 - The 2nd release features a more mellow set of deranged head-damaged blues, Mizutani and co. went for a more brooding mood in the songs, which evoke a certain sense of loss, the sensation of a bruised soul. Less in-your-face than the 1977 set but equally essential and mind-churning.

Post-script: After I wrote this article for the Flux Us website, Univive, a record label was established in Japan to release Les Rallizes Denudes box sets of live and soundboard recordings. Some of these are CD-Rs while the rest are properly pressed CDs. Apparently, this label has been given the nod from the man, Mizutani, himself to unleash more monster pandora’s boxes into this vacuous world of us. God bless Mizutani for saving us…

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